During this pandemic it is easy to see bad things happening all around us. However, with a biblical view on our circumstances it may become clearer that what God could be doing during this time of taking things away is actually giving us something wonderful and eternal - Himself!
Here are 10 things that I am learning from Him during this time:
- The most precious people on the planet are the ones that live with me (or used to live with me). Family, children, parents, relatives, close friends, roommates, etc. are people that we care for the most. Living with someone and seeing them at their best and their worst gives us a sense of care and compassion that can’t be adequately expressed. Though I often take them for granted, when things get serious, I want to gather these dear people home and make sure they are ok.
- Church gatherings are one of the most undervalued and underappreciated events in the whole world. This is the first time in most of our lives (since getting saved) that we have not been able to “be” with the church every week. It is unnatural and debilitating. We have failed to recognize how important it is to be with other believers regularly. I did not realize how much I was gaining from being there every week until it was missing. Oh, how much I have taken Wednesday nights and Sundays for granted!
- Busyness has a false sense of accomplishment while stillness feels deceptively like idleness.When we are running to work, school, events, etc. and are constantly on the move, we feel like we are really accomplishing something but often without much to show for it. Our overly busy lives have taught us to dislike times where we are sitting still and in the same place. This season is teaching me to accomplish things by staying put and sitting still. It is teaching me to reclaim something I had forgotten was important – “being” somewhere and with someone.
- Prayer is vastly undervalued and significantly underutilized. Most of us pray every day. A quick mealtime prayer or a few moments in the morning or before we go to bed are pretty common practices. But praying, and I mean really praying, is a rare effort. What might happen to our families, our churches, and our world if we seized this opportunity of relative stillness and used it for concentrated, long periods of prayer? I don’t want to waste this unique opportunity. If I can’t learn to pray during a worldwide crisis, when will I learn?
- Petty disagreements and the little things that tend to consume us are even pettier and smaller when compared to eternity. When I think about the things that have caused strife in our family or in the church, they are really generally very small matters that got blown out of proportion or misunderstood. When you compare them to what matters for eternity, most of them aren’t worth the breath to speak them or the energy spent to post them on social media. Were they even worth our time at all? Are they worth my time now? What value are they in this world if they have no bearing on the world to come?
- Selfishness resides in me in places that I have never noticed and is displayed in ways that I have never seen before. When you can’t go where you want to go or do what you want to do (or eat what you want to eat), you find emotions rising in you that are kind of surprising. Why does not being able to go to a movie or watch live sports on TV matter so much to me? Why is the fact that we are all locked in this house together bothering me given what I said I am learning in #1 above? Why do I watch the news in the morning to see how far those numbers went up last night as if watching keep score in a tragedy (Those aren’t just numbers, they are people!)? I want to be thankful for what I have and fixate on that, not what I don’t have (Phil. 4:11-13).
- Time has one direction–forward. You can’t get anything back from yesterday. Appreciate today while you have it and what you have in it. This should teach us a great deal about time. Putting off a conversation until later, or praying for someone, or playing that game with a friend, or watching your children play, are all choices we make about what matters right now in the moment we have. When that opportunity is gone, it is gone! I can’t get time back, and I should not assume we will have tomorrow.
- No one is guaranteed tomorrow, and as much as I try to understand that, I still don’t get it. I still live my life like I will always have a future on this earth. I think about next week, next month, and next year like they are guaranteed dates on my calendar. This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). Do not worry about tomorrow for sufficient is the day for its trouble (Matt. 6:34). Do not say “tomorrow we will do this…” (James 4:13). God is trying to teach me something now that will one day be an irrefutable fact.
- Redeeming today requires a pace of life that we are unfamiliar with– it is not a faster one but a slower one. I am convinced that we are just too busy. There are too many options to stay busy, and we have learned a pace of life that is unhealthy and devalues the things that matter most. I can hear the words of Jesus to Martha, “You are worried and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). I need to choose the things that cannot be taken from us and those things require a slower pace and more time than they generally get (i.e. prayer, “waiting on the Lord,” conversations with loved ones, stopping to share the gospel, reflecting on the goodness of God, taking a deep breath and enjoying the moment of grace when it is given, etc.).
- This life is short and there are many ways to squander it, but only one way to redeem it: love Jesus with your whole life, and love Him above all else. It really is a straight and narrow path and the road that leads to destruction is broad and many go down it. Yet it is not as difficult to find as it is to maintain. By the grace of God, we are shown the narrow path. But the nature of temptation is to lead us away from it. If I can learn nothing else from this season, I want to learn this ultimate lesson: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!” (Phil. 1:21).